Lake County Household Hazardous Material and Medication Collection

LEESBURG — The Leesburg Police Department and Lake County Solid Waste are teaming up to encourage residents in Lake County to dispose of unwanted hazardous household materials and medications in a safe and environmentally conscious way on Thursday, May 23.

Residents will have an opportunity to turn in their unwanted hazardous waste and medications to the County’s Household Hazardous Waste Mobile Unit which will be at the Lake County Maintenance Area 1 parking lot located at 2310 Griffin Road in Leesburg from 9 a.m. until noon on Thursday.

Unwanted or expired medications, small quantities of waste products such as lawn and gardening materials, photo and swimming pool chemicals, paint, cleaning solutions, motor oil, used gas, batteries, fluorescent lamps, light bulbs, and small propane tanks will be collected by representatives during the collection.

Other materials such as infectious waste, solvents, chemical laboratory waste, and radioactive waste will not be accepted.

A drive-thru collection line will be available for residents so that residents can remain in their vehicles during the process.

The event is available only to Lake County residents and those wanting to drop off items are required to bring proof of Lake County residency.

Due to the limited space available in the mobile unit, excessive amounts of hazardous materials will not be accepted.

Residents with large quantities of items to dispose of are asked to schedule a drop off at the Central Solid Waste Facility located at 13130 County Landfill Road in Tavares by calling (352) 343-3776.

Police Search for Suspect in Fatal Mount Dora Hit-and-Run

MOUNT DORA — Officials are searching for a suspect connected to a hit-and-run accident in Mount Dora early Friday morning that left one Mount Dora man dead according to Florida Highway Patrol reports.

According to the report, 21-year-old Demossi Weaver was standing or walking in the eastbound lane of Old US Highway 441 in Mount Dora just after 5 a.m. on Friday morning when he was struck by what investigators believe was a pickup truck.

Troopers are not sure what color the truck was nor do they have any other description at this time.

Demossi was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck is believed to have some damage to the front end or grill area due to the impact.

Troopers are asking anyone with information to contact the Florida Highway Patrol.

Leesburg Woman Charged with Child Neglect After Fleeing Police with Unrestrained Child in Vehicle

TAVARES — A Leesburg woman was arrested and charged with child neglect, driving without a license, and fleeing police officers after she reportedly fled police at a high rate of speed with an unrestrained child in the vehicle.

According to police reports, 34-year-old Bowonna Rodgers was traveling southbound on US Highway 441 near the Lake Shore Drive intersection in Tavares just after midnight Friday morning when a Tavares Police officer noticed her changing lanes several times.

The officer reported that the license plate affixed on the gold Dodge minivan came back registered to a black Acura sedan.

The officer then turned on their patrol lights and sirens and attempted a traffic stop at which time Rodgers reportedly gained speed and continued on US Highway 441.

Due to the department’s policy of not engaging in high-speed pursuits, the officer then disengaged their lights and sirens and slowed down continuing in the same direction as Rodgers as she traveled at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour.

Shortly after, the officer stated that they saw smoke and smelled burning oil believed to be coming from the vehicle Rodgers was driving.

After following the vehicle and giving several commands over the officer’s patrol vehicle PA system to pull over, Rodgers finally came to a stop near Khol’s on US Highway 441.

Officers approached the vehicle and found a small child sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle with no seat belt or approved child seat.

After running Rodgers’s name through the police database, officers discovered that Rodgers did not have nor never had a valid driver’s license.

Rodgers was arrested and transported to the Lake County Jail where she is currently being held with a $17,000 bond.

Due to the child neglect charge, a report was made with the Department of Children and Families.

The child was handed over to an undisclosed person at Rodgers’s request.

Lake County Reminds Residents to Use Proper Fertilizer This Spring

TAVARES — Lake County officials remind residents to use a slow release fertilizer this spring before the summer blackout period begins.

Officials want to remind residents of the Lake County ordinance introduced by the Keep Lake Beautiful Committee and approved by the Board of County Commissioners in 2017 which restricts the application of phosphorus and nitrogen during the summer to help reduce nutrient-loading in urban landscapes.

Residents living in unincorporated areas of Lake County are urged to fertilize their yard as soon as possible when turfgrass roots have recovered from winter dormancy and before the start of the summer fertilizer application ban on June 1.

The ordinance prohibits residents from applying fertilizers that contain nitrogen and phosphorus to turn or landscaping between June 1 and September 30 and also requires that fertilizers contain a minimum 50% slow-release nitrogen content and prohibits fertilizer from being applied within 15 feet of any body of water.

The ordinance was implemented as nutrient impairment of waterbodies and springs have become a major concern in Lake County and throughout the state.

Excess nutrients change the ecological balance of a waterbody and cause water quality issues including persistent algae blooms.

Over half of Florida’s counties have adopted similar fertilizer ordinances including neighboring counties such as Marion, Orange, Volusia, and Seminole Counties.

For more information on the Lake County Fertilizer Ordinance, visit the ordinance web page at

Baby Rescued, 14 Arrested in Webster Drug Bust

WEBSTER — Deputies rescued a child and arrested the parents along with 12 others during an early morning drug bust in Webster Friday.

According to a statement released by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, the bust was the result of a two-month long investigation into a residence located at 9357 SW 17th Way in Webster.

At approximately 6:17 a.m. Friday morning, members of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Squad, Criminal Investigations Division, and SWAT executed the search warrant on the residence.

During their search, they reportedly found the house in complete disarray with roaches and dog feces spread throughout the home, along with narcotics and hypodermic syringes which tested positive for methamphetamine and heroin.

Officials also found a child less than a year old in the home. Due to the condition of the home and its contents, officials immediately contact the Department of Children and Families.

The child’s mother, Robin Nipper, and father, Richard Measels were subsequently arrested and charged with child neglect and other narcotic related charges.

Deputies reportedly recovered approximately 16 grams of methamphetamine, 2 grams of heroin, drug packing materials, and numerous drug paraphernalia including glass pipes, hypodermic syringes and scales as well as various types of ammunition.

Aside from the child’s parents, twelve others were also arrested and charged with various drug-related offenses.

Below is a list of those arrested during the search.

Katherine Comis

30-year-old Katherine Comis was arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a vehicle used to traffic a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $31,000 bond.

Yoel Cruz Gonzales

43-year-old Yoel Cruz Gonzales was arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a vehicle which was used to traffic in a controlled substance, and 2 counts of possession of paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where he remains in lieu of a $32,000 bond.

Ryan Salgado Fuentes

32-year-old Ryan Salgado Fuentes was arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a vehicle used to traffic a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $31,000 bond.

Richard A. Measels

37-year-old Richard A. Measels
was arrested and charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine, child neglect, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of New Legend Drug. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $16,000 bond.

Kevin L. Kotwica

45-year-old Kevin L. Kotwica
was arrested and charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession methamphetamin, possession of Psilocybin, and possession of paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $15,000 bond.

David D. Blount

53-year-old David D. Blount was arrested and charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of heroin, possession of marijuana, and 2 counts of possession of paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County jail where he remains in lieu of a $15,000 bond.

Richard Rutterbush

39-year-old Richard Rutterbush was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and keeping or maintaining a drug shop. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where he remains in liue of a $6,000 bond.

Tammie D. Messick

42-year-old Tammie D. Messick was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and keeping or maintaining a drug shop. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $6,000 bond.

Robin Nipper

28-year-old Robin Nipper was arrested and charged with possession of heroin, child neglect, and possession of paraphernalia. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Robert Terry

43-year-old Robert Terry was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of Psilocybin, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where he remains in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Tosha Kotwica Burdick

41- year-old Tosha Kotwica Burdick was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of Psilocybin, and possession of paraphernalia. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Melissa Woodard

41-year-old Melissa Woodard was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, introduction of contraband into a correction facility, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Christopher Shirer

40-yea-old Christopher Shirer was arrested and charged with 2 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Sumter County Jail where he remains in lieu of a $2,000 bond.

Peggy Jo Shirer

37-year-old Peggy Jo Shirer was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked at the Sumter County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $1,000 bond.

South Lake Little League Secretary Arrested After Allegedly Stealing Over $13k from League Funds

CLERMONT — Lake County Deputies arrested the South Lake Little League’s former secretary after a nearly 1-year long investigation into allegations of stealing funds from the league’s bank account.

Detectives with the Clermont Police began their investigation into the allegations against Leia Drew after receiving complaints from the league’s board members stating that they believed Drew had stolen over $20,000 from the league’s account while acting as secretary on the board.

Board members first became aware of the missing funds during a board meeting held in May 2018. During the meeting, the then league president, Bernie Drew, stated that the league had no money to pay any bills.

After the meeting, board members requested that Bernie Drew provide the league’s bank statements to determine where the money went.

While reviewing the statements, one board member found that the money was spent using Bernie Drew’s league-issued bank card and contacted Bernie and said that he and his wife Leia, who at that time was the league secretary, needed to explain to the board where the money went.

At a following board meeting, Bernie told the other board members that he had just discovered that his wife had a prescription drug problem and had been using the account without his knowledge. Bernie also reportedly asked the board members not to involve police and to allow him to repay the missing funds by making monthly payments.

Board members later voted Bernie and Leia off the board and also voted to file a police report stating that they were not going to accept monthly payments for a crime.

After being voted off of the board, Bernie and Leia were asked to return their keys as well as, the league issued laptop issued to every league president.

When the board members received the laptop, they noticed that the laptop had been completely reset removing all league documents including bank statements, league forms, releases, and other important documents.

During their interviews with the Clermont Police detectives, some board members reported that on one occasion in January 2018, Leia entered one of the leagues concession stands and entered the safe to make change for the register then removed nearly $3,000 from the safe stating that she was going to deposit the money.

After reviewing the league’s bank statements and Leia’s bank statements, investigators discovered that there were no deposits to the league account during that time period, however, a $2,600 deposit was found on Leia’s account just two weeks after the incident at the concession stand.

Detectives worked closely with board members to collect receipts, bank transactions, and surveillance footage from various stores and ATMs. During thier investigation, Leia was seen in footage from each surveillance video using the league’s bank card to make personal purchases such as groceries, gas, gift cards, and ATM withdrawals.

Investigators also subpoenaed Bernie Drew’s bank account and found no suspicious activity to indicate he was involved or aware of the missing money.

During their investigation, detectives managed to link transactions totaling $13,949.90 to Leia Drew.

An arrest warrant was issues for Leia’s arrest on February 20, 2019 for grand theft.

Leia was arrested Tuesday night and released a couple of hours later after posting a $2,000 bond.

Sumter Humane Society Offers $10 Microchips for Pets During May

LAKE PANASOFFKEE — YOUR Humane Society SPCA and the Lake Panasoffkee Animal Clinic have teamed up to offer vouchers for pet owners to have their cats or dogs micro-chipped for only $10.

” It is estimated that 1/3 of pets will go missing at some point in their lives, and 90% of them will NOT find their way home without some form of ID. Micro-chipping has the best reunion record nationwide, as it ensures your pet’s ID doesn’t fall off, can’t be removed, or become unreadable,” the organization stated in a press release.

According to the press release, pet owners can visit YOUR Humane Society SPCA at 994 CR 529A in Lake Panasoffkee to complete an application and pay the $10 fee per pet to receive their voucher. Once the voucher is received, the pet owners can then make an appointment with the Lake Panasoffkee Animal Clinic to have their pet micro-chipped.

The special vouchers offer the pet owners an average savings of $35 per pet and include registration in 24PetWatch, a national pet recovery database.

The vouchers are only available during the month of May and there is no limit to how many vouchers can be purchased.

Pet owners must show proof of current Rabies vaccination at the time of their appointment.

YOUR Humane Society SPCA is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p

Woman Arrested After Stealing from Elderly Woman in Assisted Living

LADY LAKE — A Reddick woman was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly stealing money from a woman living in a Lady Lake assisted living home.

According to arrest reports, the victim lived at the Springs of Lady Lake Assisted Living Facility in Lady Lake until she passed away on March 16.

After her passing, the victim’s son noticed sever transactions on the victims bank account that he says could not have been the victim’s since she was living in the facility.

Of the transactions, the victim’s son found two $135 debits on February 19, a $120 debit on February 25, a $44.26 charge for concert tickets on March 1, a debit for $150 on March 1, and finally a $100 debit on March 5, all totaling to $684.26.

Upon noticing the suspicious transactions, the son contacted the Lady Lake Police who were able to obtain the IP address from an employee of the assisted living facility.

The report states that 20-year-old Kristin Micken allegedly used a Square mobile credit card reader that attaches to a mobile phone to fraudulently make the transactions.

Micken was arrested just before 3 p.m. on Monday and transported to the Lake County Jail where she remains in lieu of a $30,000 bond.

Micken was charged with 6 counts of Criminal use of personal identification. She is scheduled to appear in court on June 10 at 8:30 a.m. for her arraignment.

Ocala Man Pronounced Dead After Motorcycle Crash in Sumter

Sumter County — An Ocala man was pronounced dead later Tuesday night at approximately 11 p.m. after crashing into a vehicle and trailer in Sumter County according to Florida Highway Patrol reports.

In the report, troopers stated that 23-year-old Jonathan Manfred Klein, was traveling northbound on County Road 471 near County Road 721 when the incident occurred.

Klein was reportedly driving his 2016 Yamaha motorcycle when he attempted to overtake the vehicle in front of him and collided with a trailer the vehicle was towing.

Troopers say Klein was ejected from his motorcycle upon impact and suffered fatal injuries at the scene of the crash.

The driver of the other vehicle, a 72-year-old Lake Placid man, was not injured in the incident.

According to the report, Klein was wearing a helmet at the time.

Clermont Man Arrested After Accidently Discharging Firearm at LSSC

CLERMONT — Deputies arrested 22-year-old Jeffrey Judd Thursday afternoon after the Lake Sumter student allegedly discharged a firearm in a bathroom at the Cooper Memorial Library according to police reports.

A report released by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office stated that deputies responded to the library on Thursday after receiving a call from school officials reporting the shooting.

Judd told deputies that he was studying at the library when he went into the restroom and while in there decided to take out his firearm and “clear the chambered round”.

Judd said he thought the gun was unloaded when he put his finger on the trigger.

Judd told police that the gun accidentally discharged one round into the bathroom mirror and he was unsure of what to do due to the sudden rush of adrenaline and the ringing from the gunshot.

Campus security stated that Judd willingly turned himself in and handed the weapon over to security officers.

No students were harmed during the incident.

Deputies arrested Judd and charged him possession of a firearm on school property.

Judd was transported to the Lake County Jail where he was later released after posting a $2,000 bond.

Mount Dora Officials Invite Photographers to Enter Photo Contest

MOUNT DORA — The City Of Mount Dora Leisure Services Department has invited all local photographers to submit their photos to be considered for placement into the Leisure Services Guide.

The guide will include important information about how to get involved in the community.

Residents of Mount Dora, as well as friends of its community are encouraged to submit their photographs. The ideal photographs will be of but not limited to; The cities events, scenery, parks, downtown establishments, facilities, and much more.

These photos will be spread throughout media outlets, the city, and the county.

Once your photos are submitted by E-Mail the city of Mount Dora will obtain rights. Photos must be submitted in high resolution quality(300+DPI) in order to be considered.

Deadline to submit photos is May 1st, 2019. You will need to submit your photography to the community relations specialist at

If you have any related questions you are asked to call 352-735-7183 at ext 1610.

Officials Set to Break Ground on New Lake County Animal Shelter

TAVARES — Lake County officials prepare for groundbreaking ceremony for the new 31,000 square foot animal shelter that will be the new temporary home for hundreds of pets while they wait to be adopted.

The new shelter, which will be located at 12280 County Road 448 in Tavares will feature a dog-viewing site, an open-air cat porch, and an area where potential owners and animals can get to know each other.

“Since our transition to becoming a no-kill community, we’ve struggled with overcrowding at the shelter,” said Lake County Animal Shelter director Whitney Boylston. “The new facility will allow us to better serve the pets as they wait for new homes.”

The new facility was approved last year by Lake County Commissioners after quickly realizing the overcrowding issue since Lake County transitioned to a “no-kill” shelter in 2017.

In a statement released by the Lake County Commissioners office, Chairman Leslie Campione stated, “After all of the commitment, dedication and hard work by so many over the past two years, it is extremely rewarding to be breaking ground on a new animal shelter. We reached our first goal in 2018 when we achieved the no-kill designation for our current shelter, and now we’re working to achieve our second goal of building a new shelter for the betterment of our animals and community. It has been so heartwarming to see the lives of the animals and those who have adopted them, so I know this is going to really enhance that for future adopters.”

The new facility is funded by Lake County’s penny sales tax and will include an education room, surgery room, isolation areas for cats and dogs, and adoption areas.

Lake County officials are inviting residents to join the Lake County Animal Shelter staff and the Lake County Commissioners for the new facility’s groundbreaking ceremony which will be held on Monday, January 14 at 11 a.m. at the facility’s new location, 12280 County Road 448 in Tavares.

Fifth Arrest Made in Year-Old Eustis Rape Case

Lake County Deputies arrested a fifth person in connection to a one-year-old rape case that occurred in Eustis in February last year.

According to arrest reports, deputies took 54-year-old Robert Anothony Whiley into custody after Deputies with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office served the outstanding arrest warrant stemming from the rape case.

Reports stated that on February 27, 2018, Lake County Deputies began investigating the incident that occured on February 15.

The then 14-year-old victim stated that she had run away from a group home in Ocala and made her way to Eustis where she met two men and a woman at a Eustis Dollar General.

The victim stated that she “became comfortable” with the three individuals, later identified as Kristal Montgomery, Steven Hodge, and Moise Graham, and began walking around with them.

Eventually, the three individuals led the victim to a home where 31-year-old John Quashie lived.

The property had a small shed converted into an apartment where Steven Hodge and Kristal Montgomery reportedly lived as well.

In her statement, the victim stated that after arriving there, Hodge, Montgomery, Graham, and Quashie began taking drugs and shortly after, she and Quashie began sexual intercourse.

The victim told deputies that after Quahie finished, another man, later identified as Robert Whiley entered the shed and began having sex with her as well.

According to the victim, after Whiley finished with her, he and Quashie paid Hodge.

On the same night, the victim stated that Graham forced himself on her while she slept next to him and further stated that once Graham had finished that Hodge raped her as well telling detectives that the experience was “horrifying and crazy”.

The following day, the victim stated they continued to consume drugs and then went to a home where a man, later identified as Jermain Rabess lived.

The victim then told deputies that she and Jermaine also had sex and that Jermaine then paid Hodge.

Once she arrived back at the shed, the victim told deputies she was had taken a drug called “concrete” and was in and out of consciousness when she was raped again by an unidentified man known only as “Fofo”.

She then told detectives that once they were finished with here, they dropped her back off at the Dollar General in Eustis where a clerk allowed her to contact her ex-boyfriend.

Throughout their investigation, deputies have arrested several of the offenders and charged them with lewd and lascivious battery on a minor.

Moise Graham was arrested on July 29, 2018 and also remains incarcerated in lieu of a $103,000 bond.

John Quashie was initially arrested on August 18, 2018. He was held at the Lake County Jail until he posted a $26,000 bond and was released on September, 7, 2018. Quashie was later arrested again on January 7, 2019 on an order to revoke bond due to unrelated criminal charges while out on bail. He remains incarcerated at the Lake County Jail without bond.

Steven Hodge was arrested on September 9, 2018, and remains in the Lake County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

35-year-old Jermain Rabess was arrested on October 3, 2018 and remains at the Lake County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

Robert Whiley makes the fifth known arrest in the case and was arrested in St. Johns County and transported to the Lake County Jail on Thursday, January 10. Whiley remains in the Lake County Jail in lieu of a $105,000 bond.

Michigan Man Dead After Fatal Lake County Crash

GRAND ISLAND — A Michigan man was pronounced dead after a fatal accident on County Road 44 in Grand Island Friday afternoon.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:20 p.m. near the intersection of CR 44 and Cypress Drive.

According to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, 65-year-old Donald Vandonkelaar was traveling eastbound on CR 44 on hist 2006 Harley Davidson.

At the same time, 44-year-old Melody Lewis was stopped on CR 44 waiting to turn into a driveway.

Troopers reported that for an unknown reason, Vandonkelaar failed to slow down and struck Lewis’s vehicle.

Vandonkelaar was thrown from his motorcycle after the impact.

He was transported to Waterman Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased as a result of his injuries.

According to troopers, the crash remains under investigation and officials are awaiting the results of a blood test to determine if alcohol was involved.

UPDATE: Gunman in Custody and One Victim Deceased

OCALA — One man is in custody following a shooting at the Ocala Walmart on SR 40.

The shooting occurred mid-day Saturday and police have described it as a domestic violence altercation ending with multiple gunshots inside of the store.

A 30 year old female was shot multiple times. CPR was performed and she was transported to the hospital and later passed due to her injuries.

The gunman fleeing Walmart prompted a police search, evacuation, and the closure of major nearby intersections.

Police have released information that a 55 year old man is now in custody and being treated for self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Names involved have not yet been released as police investigate and contact next of kin. There are no outstanding suspects at this time.

One Injured in Ocala Walmart Shooting

OCALA — Approximately mid-day on Saturday, Walmart on 40 East near Silver Springs was evacuated due to a shooting.

Sources say that one gunman entered Walmart through the garden center and pulled out a gun inside of the store.

Five rounds were fired following a verbal altercation, and one person was injured before the gunman fled the scene.

Walmart was immediately evacuated and the intersection of 40 and baseline was closed as police officers arrived.

One person has been transported for medical treatment.

Police have advised to avoid the area as the investigation continues.

No other updates are available at this time.

Lake County Residents Dispose of Tires for Free During Tire Amnesty Day

TAVARES — County residents are invited to help combat mosquito populations and keep the community clean by participating in Tire Amnesty Day, held from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Lake County Landfill, 13130 County Landfill Road, Tavares.

Sponsored by Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB), Lake County Solid Waste and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the event seeks to reduce the number of unsightly waste tires that might be lying around yards, collecting water and creating ideal breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Residents may dispose of up to 24 passenger car tires that measure 40 inches or less free of charge. Large commercial tires will not be accepted. Tire Amnesty Day is open to all Lake County residents with a photo ID or proof of address.

For additional information, contact the Lake County Solid Waste Program at 352-343-3776.

KLB seeks to lead the way to a cleaner and more beautiful Lake County by engaging citizens and encouraging community participation. KLB is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the National leading nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities. Its mission is “to beautify Lake County by engaging our community” through neighborhood, park and lake clean-ups and to provide environmental education.

For more information about Keep Lake Beautiful and future events, visit

Lake County Farm Tour Offers Inside Look at Local Agricultural Businesses

TAVARES — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension in Lake County is hosting a guided bus tour of Lake County’s farms and agricultural attractions during the 9th Annual Lake County Farm Tour, sponsored by the Farm Bureau of Lake County.

The event is open to the public and will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. Participants will embark from the Lake County Extension Center, located at 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares. The Farm Tour costs $45 and includes lunch. Pre-registration is required and is available at

Participants will learn about local vegetable and turf grass production, agritourism, the nursery industry, horses and advanced research conducted by the University of Florida.

Stops on this year’s Farm Tour include:

  • Long and Scott Farms, a commercial vegetable farm and agritourism destination in Mount Dora is best known for its corn maze.
  • Peri Lee Training LLC, an Arabian horse farm in Sorrento that is home to nationally acclaimed show horses.
  • Lake Jem Farms, a turfgrass business in Mount Dora that is using cutting-edge science to produce sod for Central Florida homes and businesses.
  • UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, one of the University of Florida’s Agricultural Research Stations, where scientists are working to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farms. Details:
  • AG3, a tissue culture, and liner source nursery which grows cloned plants in Eustis. Details:

Closed-toe shoes and long pants are required for safety purposes. For more information, call 352-343-4101.

The mission of the UF/IFAS Extension in Lake County is to develop knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge accessible to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. The Extension service provides free consultations, as well as educational programs on a variety of subjects.

Marion County Organizes Hurricane Relief Drive

OCALA — The Marion County Commissioners Office released information for a relief drive for the victims of Hurricane Michael.

“Marion County has a long history of stepping up to help others in times of need,” stated county commission chairman Kathy Bryant.

According to the Commissioners Offices’ Facebook page, they will be accepting donations from October 16 through Thursday, October 25.

They are specifically asking for donations of the following: Non-perishable foods, water, towels, personal hygiene products, laundry detergent, combs/brushes, paper products, utensils, and baby products.

Donations can be dropped off at any government’s office including any of the county’s public libraries or fire stations.

Three sheriffs office stations are also accepting donations at 8322 North Highway 441, 9048 South West 200, and 3260 SE 80th street.

Hills Mayflower, who has partnered with the county to facilitate transport, will also be a local donation hub located at 416 North Weat 7th street.

Monetary donations can be made at under the “Hurricane Michael Relief Fund”.


Marion County Sheriff’s Office Hosts Safe Halloween Party

OCALA — The Marion County Sheriffs Office announced a safe Halloween Party on October 31.

This Halloween extravaganza will have music, games, face painting, food, and candy.

This trick or treating alternative is hosted in an effort to keep families safe while offering festivities for the whole family. Admission to this event is free.

This Halloween event is located at the Circle Square Commons at 8405 South West 80th street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

You can follow the Marion County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook for more information regarding this event.

Suspect Arrested After Allegedly Robbing Chase Bank in Ocala

OCALA — Thursday afternoon Ocala Police Department responded to a bank robbery call at Chase Bank located at 2525 Southwest 42nd Street.

The suspect ran on foot from the bank causing nearby Trinity Catholic High School to go on brief lockdown.

The call was placed to dispatch at 2:13 p.m. and police had the suspect in custody at 2:20 p.m.

Trinity Catholic lockdown has since been lifted.

Officials are continuing to investigate the scene.

No injuries or outstanding suspects have been reported at this time.

Man Killed in Dunnellon Shooting

DUNNELLON — The Marion County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call around 7 p.m. Wednesday night reporting gunfire.

The shooting was in Dunnellon near Southwest 106th place near the 13300 block.

Upon police arrival, one male victim was transported to the hospital and pronounced deceased.

Major crimes is investigating the shooting.

Individuals present at the scene are currently being questioned. The Officials stated that there are no outstanding suspects.

There have been no further updates at this time.

One Man Injured Following Apartment Complex Shooting

OCALA — Thursday afternoon the Ocala police were investigating a shooting at Green Gables Apartment Complex.

Reports to Star Banner stated that the residents took cover and called police after hearing five or six rapid gunshots.

Later on officials were notified that a gunshot victim had been dropped off at the local hospital.

The male victim did not have fatal injuries, but the detectives have not stated how many times he was shot.

Nothing unusual was found at the apartment complex, and no further information regarding the victim has been released at this time.

Any tips pertaining to the shooting should be reported to the Ocala Police at 352-369-7000.

Ocala Drive-In Theater Organizes Clothing and Donation Drive for Hurricane Michael Victims

OCALA — The Ocala Drive-In announced on Facebook this past Monday that they are looking for volunteers and donations for the victims of Hurricane Michael.

The organization called for volunteers to help launder a large clothing donation to send to the panhandle.

The Drive-In is also accepting donations of clean clothing, blankets and towels.

The donations will be going to the Mexico Beach community, which was devastated by the category 4 hurricane.

John at Ocala Drive-In shared the following on Facebook this past week, “Being a victim of Hurricane Katrina myself, I can remember the greatest thing next to that first meal was the smell of a clean shirt or blanket to sleep on.”

If you are able to volunteer or contribute, call John at 321-368-9529.

The Ocala Drive-In is located on South 441 in Ocala. Additionally, their movie features can be found on the Ocala Drive-In Facebook page.

Fire at Paddock Mall, Police Release Photos of Suspected Arsonist

OCALA — Updated information has been released by the Ocala Police Department regarding a structure fire at Macy’s mid-morning Tuesday.

The fire began in the women’s apparel section of Macy’s department store. The mall was evacuated while multiple fire units responded.

According to surveillance video, the suspect entered the store around 10:11 a.m. and left at 10:55 a.m.

Fire rescue was called shortly after, but the store’s sprinkler system had activated and the fire was out when crews arrived.

Reports to Ocala Star-Banner say a witness saw the woman identified in the surveillance’s videos ran from the store holding a dress without a bag.

The picture was given to officials and now the Ocala Police Department is asking for help to identify the suspected arsonist.

Suspected arson

Any information regarding the fire should be submitted to OPD at (352) 369-7000.

Arson suspect vehicle